Hundreds turn out for protest march

Hundreds turned out for a protest march across the Wairoa Bridge today, which caused serious delays for motorists. Photos and video: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Click the image above to watch the video

Hundreds of local iwi members and supporters gathered at the bend of Te Puna Station Road today, from where they began their protest hikoi against Hauraki interests in Tauranga Moana. 

Banners and flags ready, they stood in the morning sun, singing a waiata, before bowing their heads to pray.

Setting off alongside the Wairoa River, a police car went ahead of the group. The Wairoa Bridge had two banners hanging midway over the river, stating clearly the purpose of the hikoi, which was showing opposition to the government handing special rights to Tauranga Harbour to Hauraki iwi, without consultation.

The bridge was closed just prior to the group reaching it as they came out of Te Puna Station Road onto State Highway 2.  Traffic was moved through in a single lane, and then closed completely for nearly 15 minutes as the group walked onto the bridge, pausing halfway for a haka, before finishing the crossing and going down into Taniwha Place.

Traffic was moving again by 11.30am, although the NZTA reported delays for motorists up until 2pm.

Frustrated drivers took to SunLive's Facebook page to express their dissatisfaction with the delays caused by the protest.

“What a f****** joke! Traffic is backed up for miles and not moving! Don't know what they think they are going to achieve from doing this,” wrote Blair Rodgers. “All I can imagine is anger from p****** road users and residents off! If the police were any good at their jobs they would be putting a stop to this!”

Mark Adamson also thought the protest would anger motorists. “It's only going to p*** motorists off. Especially if you need to be somewhere. Should not be allowed to block a state highway for protesting.”

However, not all comments were negative.

“Good on them standing up for their rights,” wrote Renee Jackson. “There's a reason it's happening there as Te Puna is part of the land or water that Auckland iwi is trying to have claim on. So the roads blocked for an hour big deal. You want to get your point across loud and clear good way to do it.”

One woman also posted that she was held up going to hospital with a serious finger injury as a result of the bridge closure.



7 Comments

Call to arms...er...needles...

Posted on 17-07-2017 23:58 | By groutby

...all those in the Tauranga and District Weavers and Knitting club, get out there!..hold up the bridge for 15-20 mins as you have a well deserved cup of tea "en-route" to, well who knows probably the "Te Puna Tavern" for light (or heavy) refreshment after a galactic battle with them needles, or indeed anything really. As taxpayers/ratepayers, or even if your not!..hold someone's life up..it seems you are allowed to do so at any expense!..make sure then cops got their lights flashing for you eh!local yokel, they wouldn't give a damn, and yes, when Maori deserved respect, it would have been freely given....some time ago now....

So...

Posted on 17-07-2017 13:51 | By local yokel

So... The bridge and highway was able to be blocked by Iwi protesters for 15-20 minutes to hold their protest march escorted by 2 police cars as well. They not only blocked the bridge but part of Te Puna Station Road as well. What would both the people that allowed this to happen and the Iwi do and feel like if they had been responsible for someone unable to get from Tauranga quickly to Waipuna Hospice to see their dying relative before they pass away. Guess they would say it was only one person but no it would be a whole family that suffered because you blocked a critical main road. Shame on you. Take your beef to the people you are angry with.The ones in Auckland. That is what the older respected Maori would have done in the early days.

Traffic Chaos

Posted on 17-07-2017 11:03 | By rogue

Alright, put your hand up if you were stuck in traffic on "State "Highway 2 Sunday? Who let these clowns protest on the main ( only ) road North. I assume they had consent from NZTA to block a main arterial route?

Absolutely right M.Mouse

Posted on 17-07-2017 08:47 | By RawPrawn

All this posturing on a local road is a wasted empty gesture. It will not interfere with any other Maori group enjoying their day, nor will it stop Chris Finlayson having a round of golf followed by a nice lunch at the Club. As others have said, it will just alienate the protestors from the very people who could help them, if they choose to.

Peaceful Protest

Posted on 17-07-2017 01:01 | By Sare W

The rights to peaceful protest should always be upheld. The police are doing a perfect job. 15 Minutes is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Use the opportunity to open your mind and listen. If you disagree then debate the issue intelligently or simply move on. This is everyone's right and you may be grateful of it yourself one day. I cannot presume to have an opinion on this matter but I respect those who do, and having watched this, I felt proud of the Tauranga Iwi's cultural expression, in the interests of the Tauranga Moana.

So...

Posted on 16-07-2017 22:22 | By groutby

..irrespective of the "right or wrongs" of the protest and as I understand it a "Maori vs Maori" issue, who (as in authority) actually allowed this inconvenience to go ahead?...huh.....anyone?...a name please...

M.Mouse

Posted on 16-07-2017 16:48 | By M. Mouse

They shouldn't be protesting here.They should be protesting in Auckland.Quiet simple isn't it?

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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

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